This past weekend, I moved into a new place. Leading up to the move, there was a lot to get done. Cleaning, packing, and the usual bureaucracy soaked up more time than I would’ve liked, not to mention the added day-to-day of keeping a business running and customers happy. In all of that, though, I made a point to focus on something I’ve messed up in the past: keeping my own ducks in a row.
In other words, I didn’t let the chaos of being pulled in a thousand directions get to me. Instead, I set priorities. Though I would have rather been at my desk taking part in my usual routine—and others would have loved this as well—I focused on getting my new home in order. I took the weekend to put together some new furniture, hang curtains, and make sure that when I woke up this morning, things were in their right place.
In the past I didn’t do this. I’d scramble about, trying to keep all of the plates spinning instead of doing the sensible thing and just letting some of them crash and shatter. Funny enough, what I didn’t realize back then is that the crashing and shattering of plates was an illusion. I’d convinced myself that my involvement was so important that if I was gone for even a few hours, everything would come crashing down.
Of course, that’s hardly the case. Sure, messages queue up and people have to wait to get their questions answered, but it’s not the end of the world. A few years back, during a one-off conversation with the grandfather of the girl I was dating, he mentioned something that has slowly soaked in as time passes: take care of yourself first before you take care of others. His message was in respect to money and paying bills, however, I’ve found that applies to nearly all facets of life.
The end result of this behavior is a clear mind. When your personal life is in order, it’s far easier to navigate the terrain of work. You’re only worried about the problems at work, not also those at home. The only way I’ve found to get to that state of equilibrium is to deliberately put one down—dare I say ignore it—while you sort out the other. Doing both at once, admittedly, quite obviously, is a recipe for stress and disorder.
If you find yourself in a tug of war between your personal life and your work, know that it’s okay to put the work down. This may seem obvious from afar, but when you’re a slave to the groove, it can be hard to remember. Get your own affairs in order first and the other stuff will naturally take care of itself—even if you, or others, don’t believe it.